Infrastructure composites research group seeks members

West Virginia University and Rutgers University are the leading researchers in an R&D prorgam designed to help develop new composite materials for infrastructure applications. Member companies from industry are invited to participate.


West Virginia University (WVU) and Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, (RU) announced a National Science Foundation (NSF) program to help develop composite materials for integration into infrastructure applications. The universities are seeking support for the program.

The primary objective of the proposed NSF I/UCRC, entitled “Center for Integration of Composites into Infrastructure (CICI),” is to usher applications of composites in civil and military infrastructures to the next level through collaborative efforts between WVU and RU. The focus areas will synergize different fibers and polymers to create new application areas. In August 2008, the National Science Foundation approved a Planning Grant to allow CICI to continue formal development of the Center and host a recruitment meeting to bring in industry support.

Research will focus on fundamental scientific topics concerning polymer composites such as strength/service life predictions, smart structure development, fire/blast protection, fatigue response, aging phenomenon, and nondestructive testing. Development will focus on creating products that can be made through a variety of manufacturing processes and in which numerous market opportunities exist. Education will be a cornerstone of CICI as students and practicing engineers in infrastructure require new skills to take advantage of composites.

Companies that become members in the program are expected to be able to leverage research and development investments through the cooperation of industrial, university and government entities. Other benefits include:

1. Reduction or elimination of royalties on newly developed products.
2. Elimination of overhead fees on membership dues.
3. Access to supplemental funds available only to NSF I/UCRC members.
4. Career development opportunities through educational modules.
5. Networking and business opportunities.
6. Access to a graduate student job pool that has extensive experience in composite technologies.

West Virginia University will lead with Rutgers serving as a partner university. Dr. Hota GangaRao will be the center director and will manage the overall operation of the center. Site directors, Dr. Udaya Halabe (WVU), and Dr. P.N. Balaguru (RU), will be responsible for research conducted at each university. CICI will be a part of West Virginia University’s Constructed Facilities Center (CFC), which is also under the leadership of Dr. Hota GangaRao.

An Industrial Advisory Board (IAB) will be established to facilitate industry partnerships and to advise the center on all aspects of operations. This will include strategic planning and research assessment. One of the primary roles of the IAB will be helping to ensure that the research being conducted by WVU and RU is in line with industry objectives.

Membership fees are the primary funding mechanism for research, development and education undertaken by CICI. The NSF provides $80,000 in direct funding to each university for up to five years, and offers the potential of additional support for specific endeavors. The center is expected to be sustained by industry. Yearly membership fees in CICI are $40,000 for full members and $15,000 for associate members.

Letters of commitment from industry members must be received by Jan. 12, 2009. Receipt is due by this date to meet NSF deadlines. Membership fees will not be due until Aug. 1, 2009. The first IAB meeting has been scheduled for Jan. 20, 2009. A recruitment meeting is being in the conference center of the Lakeview Golf Resort and Spa in Morgantown, W. Va., on Oct. 21-22, 2008. To register for the recruitment meeting or for additional questions, please contact the articles authors at (304) 293-7608 or